Finding Your Passion: Paige’s Portfolio Advice


Photo courtesy of Paige Kuhn

If you’re a junior in Kettle Moraine School for Arts and Performance (KM Perform), you’ve probably started thinking about your portfolio. Recently, “L” submitted a question: “[Do you have any] advice on figuring out potential portfolio projects for an instrumental music focus?” The planning process can be a little challenging, but before planning anything, it’s important to come up with an idea that will challenge you, and that you’re passionate about.

Portfolios in KM Perform allow you to explore your passions and showcase your artistic abilities over the course of your senior year. They usually include some form of research/mentorship, creation of art, and performance/publication of that art. In your junior year, teachers recommend taking the Prep Your Portfolio class, which guides you through the portfolio ideation process, and helps you plan your project thoroughly. In the seminar, students read Zig Zag, a book about “strategies and exercises helpful in making portfolio ideas stronger or more original,” said Mr. Langenecker, teacher of the class. “We also look back on past seminars, workshops, events, experiences, and especially AIA projects that could be developed into a . . . portfolio.”

So, as a music focus with an emphasis on instrumental music, how do you find your passion? If you like to play music, Mrs. Catania recommends you “perform, compose, write a composition and find musicians to perform it.” If you’re more interested in digital music production, maybe you want to make some LPs. Do you want to explore music education? Teaching internships are great ways to get experience in the field. If none of those suit your fancy, don’t worry! Try to experiment in different industries of music; maybe you’ll discover a passion you never knew you had.

Take graduated music focus Jeremy Reutebuch’s portfolio as an example. Last year, he wrote a composition and arranged for the Milwaukee Youth Symphony Senior Symphony to perform it. Common portfolios for music focuses with an emphasis on instrumental music also include recitals and compositions. If given the opportunity, Mrs. Catania said to “explore and . . . experience as many portfolios as possible.” Once you have a few solid ideas of your own, it also helps to get feedback from your peers, mentors, and family before making a final decision.

Making your portfolio should be fun, which is why it’s so important to pick a topic that interests you. Coming up with a concept can be challenging, but once you have a plan, it’s easy to stick with it. As long as you’re excited about your project, and you get feedback on your progress, your portfolio will likely be a success. Good luck!